Legal Duty Owed To Trespassers

In certain circumstances a company or person that owns or manages property owes a duty of care to trespassers on their property, that is, people who they have not invited onto their property.

It is the Occupiersa�� Liability Act 1984 that sets out the legal framework under which a trespasser may be able to claim compensation from the owner of the premises where the accident happened.A�The 1984 Act states that the owner of the property must be aware or have reasonable grounds to believe that there is a feature in their premises that is dangerous and that a trespasser may come into the vicinity of the danger.A�In addition, the risk must be one against which in all the circumstances the owner should reasonably be expected to offer the trespasser some protection.

The Court of Appeal looked at the 1984 Act in relation to an accident compensation claim made by Mr Keown following an accident that he suffered whilst he was an 11 year old boy.A�Unfortunately, Mr Keown climbed the underside of a fire escape that was on the outside wall of a hospital building, and fell to the ground, sustaining a serious head injury.A�Mr Keown argued that the hospital was aware that children played in the area near the bottom of the fire escape and should have enclosed the bottom of it to prevent children climbing its underside.A�The court decided that Mr Keowna��s accident failed to satisfy the criteria of the 1984 Act and that he was not entitled to claim compensation from the NHS Trust.A�The court rejected the suggestion that the fire escape was dangerous and decided that the accident only occurred because as an 11 year old Mr Keown had attempted a dangerous activity of climbing the underside of the fire escape.

The Court of Appeala��s decision in Keown v Coventry Healthcare NHS Trust